9th Annual Full Frame Doc Fest: Day 2

News & Politics
This post was co-written with Kevin Greer, co-founder of the Brooklyn Community High School of Communications, Arts and Media.

J: Are you drunk?
K: Would you say that to Faulker?
J: Okay, no, keep typing.

Today we attended a New York Times-led Class Symposium moderated by Tom Kuntz, editor of the "Class Matters" series that ran in the Times a few years back. The panel included a host of filmmakers, academics, and journalists. They offered a rich discussion on the tangled intersections of race, class, and gender, with director Linda Goode Bryant ("Flag Wars") perhaps raising the most resonant questions about who defines self-interest and according to whose moral or economic criteria.

The missionary impulses behind much doc-making -- relatively privileged filmmakers representing the lives of the less fortunate -- also got interesting play.

But while the mainstream media so generously plies us with enervating doses of class stereotypes on reality shows like "Wife Swap," "The Apprentice," "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," etc., this particular group seemed quite primed for the subject. Nothing new -- it's the very air we breathe. But you can't not notice the overall homogeneity of the audience here. They had plenty to say during the Q and A (or we, I should say, since I, Kevin, chimed in, too) but precious little to ask. Instead they/we seemed more intent on flashing their liberal credentials in a public forum with disclosures of our own work. (I, too, couldn't resist fanning my tail feathers as an inner-city high school teacher.)

But, then again, the urge to show one's colors is understandable, if not imperative, in these ominously anti-liberal times. However, the challenge remains: how to reach beyond the hermetic havens of documentary festivals like Full Frame and into the mainstream . . . Look, there goes Walter Mosely across the room right now.

Some suggestions on how: John L. Jackson, a filmmaker and anthropologist on the panel, brought up the point that it is easy to study the poor, in fact, overstudy them, to the point where we see only the poor as the problem. But not so easy to study the rich because they have little to gain from being studied, and perhaps much to lose. Jamie Johnson (Johnson heir and filmmaker of "Born Rich") agreed, adding that we do not live in a meritocracy and his birth proves that. Linda Goode Bryant, in turn, argued that we should start by aiming to resist such labels as "haves" and "have nots" because different communities define those words differently, as beautifully illustrated by her film.

While Kevin stuck with the entire Class Symposium lecture, I, Jyllian, reluctantly dragged my ass away to catch a Sydney Pollack press conference about his forays into the documentary world with his film "Sketches of Frank Gehry," last night's festival opener. When festival director Nancy Biurski intro'd the film she joked that Pollack had coinsidered calling his film "Two Jews Sitting Around Talking" -- apt title. These are two men in their 70's who know their business and the business of living but are secure enough to admit imperfection. Pollack came to the subject as a laymen to both architecture and doc filmmaking. Frank Gehry is a surprisingly down to earth and likable fellow, and to see him sitting at his table shrugging as he stuck pieces of paper together with scotch tape was somewhat of a relief, because, as one filmmaker/viewer said, "that's what his buildings look like."

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}